Amendment 97

Part of Environment Bill - Committee (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 28th June 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 9:00 pm, 28th June 2021

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock. I support Amendments 97 and 289, to which she spoke so comprehensively. I shall speak also to Amendments 277, 281, 282, 294, 295, 296 and 297 in my name.

These amendments are all about REACH—the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. REACH was introduced in the EU in 2006 and was not carried over into UK law at the point of Brexit, as were a large number of other EU laws. By mid-2019, some 24,660 animal tests had been performed for EU REACH purposes, equating to an estimated 6 million animals. While it has in the past been necessary to test chemicals on animals, it is not necessary to repeatedly duplicate tests for the same or very similar chemicals over and again. Testing should be kept to an absolute minimum, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, said.

The Government have come forward with a new UK REACH system, which should be better, leading the way to a full transition to using non-animal approaches to safely test chemicals. Next week we will debate the animal sentience Bill. Surely the Government want the ethos of that Bill to be extended to this Bill.

Amendment 277 relates to REACH Articles 26, 27 and 30, and is designed to prevent duplication of testing on animals and increase the sharing of data, which would make it unnecessary to duplicate tests on animals. The last set of EU statistics on animal experiments showed that more animals were used for testing in the UK than in any other EU country. This leads us to the need to move at a pace to adopt methods other than animal testing. NAMs—new approach methodologies —include technologies, methodologies, approaches, or a combination of all three to provide information on chemical hazards. They can be extensive and achieve equal or greater biological predictability than current animal models. Amendments 281 and 282 would set REACH targets to replace testing on animals and to increase data sharing to prevent unnecessary testing.

Amendments 294 to 297 intend to ensure that the Government attach full weight to evolving scientific progress when considering animal testing, thereby reducing the need for animal testing except in very rare cases or, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, says in Amendment 97, as a last resort. Too often in the past it has been seen as acceptable to test cosmetics on animals. Those days are gone. It is no longer acceptable.

I fully support Amendment 289 from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, to ensure that there is monitoring of the Health and Safety Executive’s performance in the execution of its duties under the UK REACH responsibilities.

The impact of UK REACH is extensive and may often be less visible than we would wish. Animals are sentient beings and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. I look forward to the Minister’s comments on these amendments, especially bearing in mind the animal sentience Bill, which is going into Committee next week.